MercoPress, en Español

Montevideo, August 8th 2022 - 10:11 UTC



Nicolas Maduro named interim president; elections within 30 days

Wednesday, March 6th 2013 - 10:50 UTC
Full article 14 comments
The former bus driver union leader is perceived as a negotiator with diplomatic skills The former bus driver union leader is perceived as a negotiator with diplomatic skills

Venezuelan Vice President Nicolas Maduro will take over as interim president of the country while elections are organized within 30 days following the death of Hugo Chavez, Foreign Minister Elias Jaua announced on Tuesday.

“Companion-commander Chavez clearly spelled out what should happen if he were to die in a December 8 speech before travelling to Cuba for cancer surgery”, Jaua said.

“The vice president assumes power and elections are called in the next 30 days” pointed out Jaua in an interview on state television. “It’s the order that President Hugo Chavez gave us Dec. 8 and he asked us, the revolutionary Venezuelans, to accompany Nicolas Maduro in this task.”

Maduro, a former bus driver and union leader, had been running the country in Chavez’s absence after the former paratrooper was operated on in Cuba Dec. 11. His convalescence in Cuba sparked a constitutional crisis after the Supreme Court ruled he could skip his own swearing-in ceremony for a new term.

As he didn’t take the oath for a new term, the constitution states that National Assembly President Diosdado Cabello should take over, said Leonardo Palacios, a constitutional lawyer at the Andres Bello Catholic University.

“The constitution is clear that in such cases the president of National Assembly, Diosdado Cabello, has to assume temporary power,” Palacios said. “What we are seeing today are political machinations. Maduro’s decision to remain in power would be absolutely unconstitutional.”

Cabello, speaking on state television after Chavez’s death was announced, said he would “accompany the people in whatever they decide,” without adding further details. Supreme Court President Luisa Estella Morales called on Venezuelans to show confidence in Venezuelan institutions.

Maduro, 50, joined the circle of followers of Chavez before he became president in 1999. He first met Chavez in 1994 when the then paratrooper was released from prison after leading a failed military coup against an elected government. Inspired by Chavez’s blend of socialism and populism, Maduro had campaigned for his freedom.

After Chavez won the presidential election in 1998, Maduro joined the assembly that drafted a new constitution. He later became Speaker of the National Assembly before joining the cabinet as foreign minister in 2006. For the next six years, Maduro was a loyal purveyor of “Chavismo” around the world. He is married to Cilia Flores, a lawyer that defended Chavez when he was jailed for rebellion and later became Venezuela’s Attorney General.

Maduro “is perceived by Chavez as a negotiator with diplomatic skills who could potentially gather the support of the different factions and keep it united in the difficult months ahead,” said Diego Moya-Ocampos, an analyst with the London-based consulting firm IHS Global Insight.

“Nevertheless, he is not necessarily perceived as such within all the top ranks of the ruling United Socialist Party of Venezuela and the armed forces,” Moya-Ocampos added.

Jennifer McCoy, a political science professor at Georgia State University, described Maduro as an easygoing man who has shown a willingness to talk with government opponents.

“He's always been someone who is easy to talk to,” said McCoy, director of the Americas program at the Carter Centre, which helped the Organization of American States facilitate dialogue between the government and opposition after a 2002 coup that briefly ousted Chavez.

Maduro was always willing “to discuss the issues, and I think that's really important going forward for Venezuela,” McCoy said.

Before Chavez underwent his latest operation in December, he explained why he had chosen Maduro: “He's one of the young leaders with the greatest ability to continue, if I'm unable to — God knows what he does — if I'm unable to, to continue with his firm hand, with his gaze, with his heart of a man of the people, with his gift for people, with his intelligence, with the international recognition he's earned, with his leadership, leading the presidency”.

Top Comments

Disclaimer & comment rules
  • ChrisR

    This apology for a politician has already had a number of weeks to get the army on side: they support him (no mention of the people) so we can only guess what comes next.

    Suppression of the opposition, further expulsions of American diplomats, etc. Despite the claims that Venezuela ran a clean election a few months ago, the Bill Clinton whatever they call themselves had to admit they had no people on the ground and had only examined documents ‘but it was fine’, yeh and Clinton never touched Monica.

    It will be a potential bloodbath especially if the bus driver and the army think they are going to loose.

    South America – they just don’t get freedom of speech and democracy (except Uruguay) even though they all claim it.

    Mar 06th, 2013 - 03:37 pm 0
  • Captain Poppy

    Chris....the buzzword in south america is not democracy, rather dictocracy. There is noever an alligence to the country and a way of life, it is always to the leader/person. Very wrong concept to democacry.

    Mar 06th, 2013 - 03:40 pm 0
  • redpoll

    Poppy You talk about dictracy and mebbe you are right. Democracy has many different interpretacions. In your own country its a plutocrasy Whoever rakes in the most funds to run for election, be it Democrats, Republicans or Tea Party can but more TV advertising and thus convince the unthinking thundering herd to vote for them. This isnt meant to be a critcism, but just a fact of life which any democratic system is plagued with

    Mar 06th, 2013 - 05:44 pm 0
Read all comments

Commenting for this story is now closed.
If you have a Facebook account, become a fan and comment on our Facebook Page!